Way back in November, I attended The Emporiyum, which I completely forgotten to post about it, but then two things happened that reminded me of my experience. First, someone at work brought up where to find “authentic” tacos in Northern Virginia, to which I responded with, “Uh, nowhere.” I considered rambling on about how nothing beats DC and Maryland, but I remembered tasting this amazing Taco Bamba tostada for the first time at the Emporiyum, so I swallowed my words.

And second, I found out Ekiben — one of the Emporiyum exhibitors — is opening a brick-and-mortar shop in Baltimore’s Fells Point. Ekiben was created by Nikhil Yesupriya, an old pal from my middle school days, and two other UMBC students as a concept revolving around the street food of Taiwan and Southeast Asia. Over the last few years, I’ve seen Nikhil post Facebook statuses about grabbing a bite of his creations at the Fells Point Farmers Market, and now his efforts have grown into this! To see someone who was always so kind to everyone around him reach the success of having his own restaurant at our age is actually kinda amazing.

BUT to give you all more of an idea of what the Emporiyum is… It was a food marketplace laid out very much like a craft fair where you could go from booth to booth taste testing things. The YUM I attended was in DC’s Union Market, but next month another YUM will take place in Baltimore. If you’re anything like me, and you end up stopping by the Baltimore edition, just know your daily diet may look a little something like this:

  • A Korean fried chicken sandwich.
  • Buredo’s “sushirito” sushi burrito. Tempura to be exact.
  • Pork and cabbage dumplings by Pinch Dumplings.
  • Probably one of the most moist cupcakes you’ll ever taste if visit the Savannah Cupcakes booth.
  • A couple of District Doughnut balls.
  • One of milk bar‘s infamous cookies.
  • Some La Tasca sangria to wash it all down.
  • And, of course a Thai chicken meatball steamed bun sandwich from Ekiben.

And whatever other random assortment of cheese, chips, pasta, pizza, cookies and drinks you can find at any of the other booths. In short,  you’ll  feast like a king.


Tell ‘Em How You Really Feel

Photo Edited with A Color Story.

This one’s for your beloved bae or that cutie you’re crushing on… Of all the Valentine’s Day treats I see on cooking blogs each year, the conversation hearts concept never gets old. This version is a cheesecake recipe I whipped up last year. Right here is the point where I’ll emphasis the word whipping ’cause that cream cheese was no joke! But besides that, these were really fun to make. If you’re still looking for food ideas to make with your galentines or valentine, visit the Hungry Happenings blog.


Harper Macaw

When it comes to dark chocolate, I’m the type who falls into the ‘hate it’ camp. Maybe my taste buds just aren’t sophisticated enough, but I can’t get down with the bitterness I’ve always tasted.

Taking a tour at the Harper Macaw chocolate factory  actually has me rethinking that opinion — and I’m not just saying that because the amount of chocolate given away during the tasting is a pretty decent, not to mention the free samples available on their display case, which you can and will gravitate toward if you geek out over pretty branding like I do. (That ‘BITE ME!’ packaging is too tough to resist).

Pretty packaging aside, I did learn a lot more about chocolate than I had expected. Harper Macaw sources their beans directly from Brazil’s Atlantic and Amazon rainforests, a region where many people make their living off the cacao plant, something co-owner Colin Hartman stressed a lot during the tour. All chocolate is made from beans grown at farms that use sustainable practices, and the company makes sure to purchase directly from the farms to ensure workers are compensated fairly. On top of all that, five percent of each chocolate bar’s sales will be donated to a nonprofit that focuses on bringing back Brazil’s native plants and wildlife by acquiring deforested and threatened land.

So Hartman told us all of that info (the business side of things + the machinery used to make their products), but his wife Sarah — also the owner of Harper Macaw — walked us through the tasting. She allowed us to try Harper Macaw’s four types of bars: dark chocolates at 67, 74 and 77 percent cocoa, and a milk chocolate at 54 percent. Here’s also what I learned from Sara:

  1. Before eating, rub your chocolate. This releases the flavor.
  2. You can actually listen to your chocolate, meaning crack it in half and if it makes a sharp break noise, it’s tempered. (Read more on tempering here).
  3. To fully enjoy the taste, take only two bites. Let the rest melt in your mouth.

You really got the feeling Sarah is really passionate about chocolate and what she does, so I really appreciated that. It’s also nice to know a small business like this has made its home in DC, and that I’ll be able to find that vibrantly pretty packaging at shops around the city.

le Tour de Donuts 2015

Image via the Doughnut Plant website.

It all started with a chocolate donut, which sounds simple enough, but this wasn’t just any old chocolate donut…

It was the Brooklyn Blackout at Doughnut Plant, a cakey, chocolate pudding-filled, chocolate glaze donut sprinkled with chocolate cake crumbs. And ever since I tasted its sweet deliciousness on my 22nd birthday, I’ve been craving it like crazy.

I’m not quite sure what encouraged me to go around New York City taste testing as many donuts as my belly could hold, but the fact is, Dunkin’ Donuts just ain’t cutting it anymore, and I felt like it would be worth it. My first stop was Doughnuttery at Chelsea Market, where I had mini speckled strawberry and fruity cereal donuts. Not bad choices, but sugared donuts can become a little too much too fast. I think being able to visit all the shops in Chelsea Market (and especially the Artists & Fleas there) was the major win for me.

My next stop was Orwasher’s Bakery. Orwasher’s doesn’t specialize in donuts, but OH MY GAWD. OH. MY. GAWD. It was by far my favorite place on the “tour.” I had a chocolate donut filled with the best “farm-fresh” strawberry jam. It was so good I tried to convince my boyfriend to get one (so I could eat that one too), but I wasn’t that lucky. Clearly these people know what they’re doing since they’ve been in business for nearly 100 years.

I have a serious sweet tooth and I could eat bread every day of my existence, which made Dough donuts amazing. Dough is completely different from Doughnut Plant, given their donuts are really fluffy, light and aren’t super sweet. I enjoyed a hibiscus donut and a dulce de leche donut in one sitting, and I don’t regret it a bit.

So would I do it again? Probably. There’s still Dun-Well Doughnuts, Dough Loco and Peter Pan Donut & Pastry shop waiting for me to pay a visit… What’s a diet?

Papermoon Diner

Image via Baltimore magazine.

Fact: anything covered in bacon tastes 738,492,154x better. Bacon chocolate, bacon pizza… And I know it’s incredibly unhealthy, but when I heard Papermoon Diner offers bacon milkshakes, I had to go get one.

Papermoon happens to be a Roadside America Maryland attraction, so it was like killing three birds with one stone: celebrating my sister’s 16th birthday, crossing another quirky spot off my list and cloggin’ up my arteries, not to mention Baltimore is such a kick ass city. The diner was exactly the type of technicolor madness I love surrounding myself with and the food even lived up to the hype, too, so I’m thinking I won some ‘nice big sister’ points with this one…

papermoon diner baltimore maryland